Nvidia auto chief maps out next steps on road to autonomous vehicles

The automotive industry has come to the conclusions that fully autonomous vehicles are not as close as some people thought three to four years ago. But that does not mean automakers and suppliers have given up on providing vehicles the ability to safely and reliably drive themselves, Nvidia Senior Director of Automotive Danny Shapiro told Automotive News Europe Managing Editor Douglas A. Bolduc.

Why have the bold predictions about putting autonomous vehicles on the road changed over the last few years?

The industry has realized that fully autonomous vehicles aren’t as close as we thought they were three or four years ago. It’s a really hard problem to solve. This means more computing, more sensors and more software is required.

Has the enormity of the problem caused some people to back away?

What we are seeing is people saying, “We can still bring technology to market that is the foundation for autonomous driving, but there is still going to be a human in the loop.”

What will we see?
For now it is Level 2-plus, which can be a really robust system that can prevent a lot of accidents or save the driver if something bad happened like the person falls asleep or has a medical emergency. Humans still get distracted so we can prevent accidents that happen because of those human errors, even if we are not fully autonomous.

Is it more realistic to say that we won’t see fully autonomous cars on the road until 2030?

If you are talking about the Holy Grail — the car that will pick you up anywhere and take you anywhere — yes, that is quite far out. I don’t think it’s that far out if you mean very specific kinds of deployments. It could be robotaxis or shuttles on fixed routes or in geofenced areas. I think those things are still moving forward with great progress. When it comes to highway auto pilots and hub-to-hub trucking, I think we are going to see a lot more in terms of the movement of goods before [the movement of] people.

Could you elaborate?

This means delivery…

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